James (pronounced Ha-mess)

I love hostels. The best part about hostels are the instant friends you make. It is a community in and of itself. The notion of sharing a living space infuses into the residents until you cannot help but make conversation and share new experiences with complete strangers. Ana, Katie, and I were sitting on the couch in the common area discussing something when a tall and handsome backpacker sauntered into the hostel, checked in, and immediately asked us where we were from after hearing us speak English.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to James – originally from Oregon and studying medicine at Vanderbilt, but currently completing a fellowship in Argentina – he became our plus one throughout Punta del Este.

James, Ana, Katie, and me

So you know when you are watching those TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and there is the  lovable character whom you kind of dismiss at first because  you and the protagonist are focused on the major hottie who keeps giving sex eyes, but then you realize that the semi-nerdy cute one who is not afraid to sling a ladies purse over his shoulder while taking her picture with Spiderman is actually worth noticing? That pretty much sums up James. James initiated himself into our little group as soon as he landed in Punta del Este and never once looked back. I give him mad props for putting up with all three of us. We are some bad-ass and intimidating bitches, but he never once batted an eye.

I told him that he would have his own blog post and he asked me what sort of character I would paint him as. What an interesting question. And it is such a James thing to ask. He is a medical student at Vanderbilt, which immediately places him in the intelligent ring. He is taking a year off to complete a medical fellowship in Argentina, so he likes traveling and adventure. The year sabbatical from school also reflects a person who is not so blinded by the very American desire to achieve the next goal in the shortest amount of time. Oh, and he nerded out with me about books. After we got back to Montevideo, I received a literary analysis he wrote over The Handmaid’s Tale. It was well-written and well argued. My friend Terra knows that Margret Atwood is a subject I always bring up to determine if a person is cool or not.  To quote Terra, “Not knowing or liking Margret Atwood is a fucking deal breaker!”

So here is this guy – smart, confident, adorable, and bi-lingual – and I can already hear the chatter. My mother is going to wonder why I don’t date him. My friends will all wonder why I don’t sleep with him. And the answer to that is simple…he’s 25 and I’m still in the hottie with the sex eyes stage of my own TV show. Simply put, I really love having him as a friend.

I am beyond appreciative that we met James. I have mad mad respect for a man who will not only gladly play along with my funny picture-taking escapades, but will make funny suggestions about how I should pose. I found a Spiderman hanging and was just going to run up to it and grab a picture for my brother when James suggested doing the Spiderman kiss. Freaking brilliant! I would fling my camera and purse at him and say “Here! Take my picture.” And he would sling my purse over his shoulder and take picture after picture without judgement or complaint. He tagged along with the ladies all the way to Casa del Pueblo and then made the decision to walk back to Punta because he “really likes walking and it wasn’t to far.” In all honesty, he probably couldn’t wait to be out of the death car. I kind of scared the crap out of him while driving on a dirt road. I was too focused on avoiding the potholes to downshift so ended up zooming over them instead. Poor James probably has a few grey hairs from that adventure. I don’t doubt he likes to walk, but we made it back to Montevideo faster than he made it back to the hostel. Bless him! And I will even give the poor guy some props for trying to battle me in a literature debate. That takes some serious balls. At the end of the day, I really am just glad to have a friend to reminisce with about Nashville. There is something very warm and comforting about finding someone who knows your home. Talking restaurants and the crazy obsessive music scene that only Nashvillians truly know was a unexpected pleasure. Even our observations about Vanderbilt made me a bit nostalgic for my grad school days.  James was a little slice of home. I had not let myself really recognize how much I was missing Nashville. It is one of my favorite cities in the world and leaving was quite difficult. So I thank you, James, for allowing me to have a beautiful reminder of a place I love. And thank you for adding some testosterone to our group of ladies.  I look forward to many many book email discussions and wish you all the best as you finish your fellowship and schooling. Know that you will always have a friend and place to stay in Montevideo. And also know that you will always be one of my favorite adorable purse-holding photographers. 

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